Cost to Host Olympic Games Skyrockets

The report mentions a federally-funded sewer construction project in Salt Lake City which the Environmental Protection Agency has said would not be neccessary without the games.

The project became the subject of a bitter political tiff between Sens. Bennett and McCain last year. McCain charged that soft-money political donations had been used to buy Bennett’s support for the project, which cost the federal government $2.2 million. When challenged, McCain was unable to prove his allegations.

Funds Improperly Spent But the GAO report did find that in two of five Olympic-related projects it reviewed federal funds may not have been spent wisely.

In the 1996 Atlanta games, the federal government improperly paid $2 million on salaries for organizers of the Paralympics, a competition for disabled athletes held in conjunction with the Olympics, the report found. It also said the Department of Veterans Affairs improperly spent $2 million on equipment and services for the disabled, most of whom were not veterans.

It is important to note, McCain says, that the report found that the federal government has no policy that defines its role in financing the Olympics and that there has been no provisions for oversight and monitoring the money spent. A good portion of the funding, he says, was added piecemeal to different appropriation bills passed by Congress.

“They just stuck it in there,” McCain said. “It’s outrageous and it’s got to stop.” McCain said he would filibuster any unuathorized spending that Sen. Bennett tries to propose.

Bennett said on the Senate floor last week that he agrees that federal spending on the Olympics needs to be monitored. But he also said that he believes that the federal government has to play an important role in the Olympics and help support cities faced with dramatically increasing costs of hosting the games.

“Somewhere along the line, someone lost track of what happens to all of this,” Sen. Bennett said. If Congress decides that it should not help fund the Olympic games, “then no American City will ever host the Olympic games again because no American city can ever afford the thing kinds of things that are required.

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